Pirate Warrior: A Pilot’s Guide

As we’re just halfway through the first month of the new meta, some “top-tier” competitive decklists are beginning to crystalize. There are tons of toys for every class to explore, but I’m a long-time fan of Warrior. Accordingly, I’d like to share an in-depth guide to Sintolol’s Pirate Warrior list, which he piloted to #1 Legend early this season. Shoutout to him for making this one of the top decks right now! Let’s start with a look at the decklist and talk over its strengths and weaknesses before we dive into some individual card discussions!

Decklist

Pirate Warrior Decklist

General Advice

Pirate Warrior is fundamentally a very aggressive strategy, and wants to be on the offensive whenever possible. Accordingly, the starting goal of this deck is to mulligan for 1- and 2-drop minions, while never keeping Patches the Pirate in your opening hand. This is crucial because a Patches from your deck is effectively a 0-mana card that you drew for free! When on the play, a turn one Pirate that summons Patches essentially increases your starting hand size by a card. You always want to bash the enemy hero’s face when possible, and only make efficient trades! If you trade off too many minions, you’ll fall behind on damage and find yourself losing tempo – a bad place to be with an aggro deck!

Patches the Pirate

Matchups

Here are some popular decks in the currently-developing metagame, along with Pirate Warrior’s expected matchup versus them. This information is drawn from my personal experience, so it may not be fully accurate for everyone. Still, this should give you a rough idea of which opponents to look out for!

Favorable

Freeze Mage: Should be a good matchup because Freeze Mage generally needs to draw and set up their Secrets in the first few turns before finishing you off with burst damage. Pirate Warrior floods the board with cheap minions, forcing the Freeze Mage to play defensively and slowing their development. They can’t afford to spend their third turn playing Secrets and simultaneously deal with the pressure the Warrior deck applies!

Druid: Whether it’s Jade Druid or the Aviana + Kun + Malygos version, the matchup doesn’t change much. Both these decks will dominate you in the late game, so you want to finish them off before they’re able to play their big Taunt minions and Feral Rages. It is easy to bypass one Taunt and one Feral Rage, but if they play any more than that it’s probably over for the Pirate Warrior.

Feral Rage

Dragon Priest: They need a very fast start to compete with you, and if they don’t have Twilight Guardian on turn four you’re usually going to win. They don’t run a lot of heals and their board control is weak by comparison to Control Priest, so you can dominate early and have time to draw into your finisher!

Tempo Mage: Should be favored as well, but make sure you clear their important minions like Mana Wyrm, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Flamewaker, because if you fall behind on tempo you’re very likely done for!

Murloc Paladin: Pirate Warrior completely dominates this matchup, because they run very few minions that can respond to the board and especially have almost no Taunts outside of Tirion Fordring. Even if they run some healing, they would still need to regain board control and have no cards that can really help them do so.

Even

Reno Jackson lists: Whether it’s Mage, Priest, or Warlock, they all have one thing in common: turn six Reno Jackson or bust! If they have it then you’re in a bad spot, but if they don’t then the game should be yours!

Reno Jackson

Unfavorable

Aggro & Midrange Shaman: This matchup favors Shaman because of their efficient mass removal in Maelstrom Portal and Lightning Storm, as well as a few other damaging spells and weapons. Pirate Warrior has a lot of very low health minions, so it’s more vulnerable than most here. The only way to win is to beat face a majority of the time and pray that the Shaman has a poor starting hand or an unfocused decklist.

Pirate Miracle Rogue: Pirate Rogue runs Patches the Pirate, Small-Time Buccaneer and Swashburglar as their 1-drops to aggressively contest early board control. They’re also very dangerous on the draw, as the Coin lets them put out a big Edwin VanCleef and we lack a good way to deal with it since Pirate Warrior doesn’t run Execute. This is a hard matchup either way, and you’ll have to draw and play well to win it!

Edwin VanCleef

Individual Card Discussion

N’zoth’s First Mate

Good 1-drop that gives you a 1/1 body and a weapon for early board control! Also activates Patches the Pirate so you can put continuous early pressure on your opponent.

Patches the Pirate

Not much that hasn’t already been said. In some ways, the most important card in the whole deck! Remember never to keep him in your opening hand.

Small-Time Buccaneer

Small-Time Buccaneer

Another good one drop. When you have a choice, play this guy instead of N’zoth’s First Mate on turn one, because it gets its attack boost immediately once you play a weapon the following turn.

Southsea Deckhand

Decent 1-drop minion, which immediately gains Charge if you have a weapon in play. A fine keep in your opening hand because it also activates Patches. A fine minion to trade for your opponent’s blockers when it’s really necessary, but try to damage their hero as much as possible first!

Sir Finley Mrrgglton

The base Warrior hero power is pretty bad for an aggressive deck, and Sir Finley is a flexible 1-drop who gives you access to far better options! The order of preferred hero powers is generally the following: Warlock > Mage > Druid > Hunter > Priest > Rogue > Shaman > Paladin.

Upgrade!

Upgrade!

Keep if you have a strong hand with a weapon, and also a keep if you don’t have any 1-drop or weapons at all. Otherwise I would mulligan it away. It may be tempting to try and hold this for your Arcanite Reaper, but don’t succumb! It’s often necessary as an early play to keep the board on lockdown.

Acidic Swamp Ooze

An interesting tech card not normally seen in Pirate decks. However, this card is really good in the mirror and also helps with the tough Rogue matchup.

Bloodsail Raider

Solid minion, since it also fetches Patches and gets a powerful Battlecry effect if you have a weapon. Playing this card with Arcanite Reaper on board is insane value!

Fiery War Axe

Synergizes very well with our Bloodsail Pirate crew. Also offers good board control that can be used as reach when necessary!

Heroic Strike

Never keep it in your starting hand, but it’s a powerful spell that can be used as the situation dictates: either for efficient removal or a killing blow!

Bloodsail Cultist

Bloodsail Cultist

A bit situational, since it requires that you have a weapon and a Pirate already on board. Can still be played for pressure if you don’t have these things, and has good combat stats to make up for this possibility.

Frothing Berserker

Really strong card if he sticks around long enough, and in some late game situations where you’re trading minions to break through, he can deal enough face damage to win you the game outright!

Dread Corsair

Really good card to play in conjunction with our strong weapons. Best case scenario is being cast for 0 mana with an Arcanite Reaper equipped! Also one of the few Taunt minions that we run to give us a chance in slower games.

Kor’kron Elite

A classic at this point. Good turn four tempo play that quickly stacks up face damage.

Mortal Strike

Mortal Strike

Save it mostly for the finishing blow, especially after the opponent tries to stabilize behind a Taunt minion at low health.

Arcanite Reaper

You want to go to the face a majority of the time with this weapon. Only use on a minion if you already have enough pressure on the board, since 5 damage chunks finish off your opponent quite quickly!

Leeroy Jenkins:

Leeroy Jenkins

A 6 attack minion with Charge, normally used to finish games. His “drawback” is usually negligible as he’s swinging for the kill. When using him, be careful not to trigger Ice Block from a Freeze Mage unless you have no other choice!

This wraps up my guide to Pirate Warrior! As the metagame continues to develop, this deck promises to be one of the most powerful options available to players aiming for high ladder finishes this season! Hope that you enjoyed this article, and keep an eye out for more deck guides and card reviews from me in the future! Follow me on Twitter at @rduong_hs!

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